UWI Professor says more resources needed to manage sickle cell


August 04, 2016
Professor Marvin Reid

Renowned medical researcher Professor Marvin Reid says Jamaicans should start paying greater attention to sickle cell, the dreaded disease which claimed the life of former Miss Universe Jamaica, Shakira Martin.

"Just like motor vehicle accidents, HIV, cancer, diabetes .... sickle cell is an important cause of death for Jamaica," said Reid who is the former head of the Sickle Cell Unit at the University of the West Indies, Mona.

"Adequate resources need to be allocated to manage it as with appropriate management, especially in the early stages of their life, you can actually have them living much, much longer, having a better quality of life and be productive citizens," Reid said.

Life expectancy of sickle cell patients is just about 10 years less than the average life expectancy of Jamaicans.

Martin, 30, who won the Miss Universe Jamaica competition in 2011, died in a Florida, USA hospital yesterday morning "from complications from sickle cell blood clots to both lungs" her mother, Andrea Hall, said.

About 10 per cent of all people in Jamaica have sickle cell trait.

"Our population in general survive a little longer than most other populations because of the work of the unit, but notwithstanding it is still a cause for premature deaths," Reid said.

Sickle cell disease is an inherited disorder in which the pigment that makes blood red and transports oxygen, is abnormal. It is most common among people with African heritage.

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